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BT Mobile UK Quietly Removes Ultrafast 5G for New Customers

Friday, September 18th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 27,469
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Did you spot it? Many did not. In a surprising move new customers looking to benefit from ultrafast 5G based data speeds (mobile broadband) on the BT Mobile (EE) network can no longer do so and will instead only be able to harness 4G connectivity, which represents a significant change of strategy.

Last year broadband ISP BT made a lot of noise about the addition of 5G support to their BT Mobile plans, which was followed in February 2020 by the extension of 5G to all of their customers (here). All of this made complete sense since BT owns mobile operator EE and many of their rivals in the mobile space, including MVNO providers, have also been launching 5G based plans.

Lest we forget that BT’s increasing moves toward fixed line and mobile network convergence also makes support for 5G somewhat of a necessity in order to stay competitive. Nevertheless, ISPreview.co.uk recently noticed that 5G was no longer being promoted to new customers and now we know why.

As part of a planned product simplification and to support EE’s claimed network superiority, BT Mobile has now officially removed 5G support for new customers. At present existing customers are unaffected by this change, which was quietly introduced on 1st September 2020.

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We are updating our BT mobile packages to offer simplicity and flexibility to suit the changing needs of our customers and their families. On the 1st September we launched Mobile Made Easy to give customers the choice from three simple data packages with unlimited calls and texts across a range of the most popular 4G handsets.

New customers wanting a 5G package will be recommended an EE 5G plan. Our award winning EE 5G service offers the biggest range of 5G handsets, combined with best 5G experience on the UK’s No 1 network and will come with a loyalty discount.

There is no change for BT Mobile customers who already have 5G packages. They will continue to use their 5G service and can regrade their data allowance as usual.”

We can understand BT’s desire to highlight the best from both sides of their fixed line and mobile business, but encouraging potential customers to effectively split their services seems likely to confuse new customers. This also helps to explain why BT are running a separate trial of mixed BT broadband and EE mobile discounts (here).

Leave a Comment
38 Responses
  1. Avatar Ian Moore says:

    No wonder we all hate BT and EE

    1. Avatar Dawson says:

      I know you state that “we all” hate them but I don’t… so… apart from me, everyone else must hate them…… blimey

  2. Avatar Mr D says:

    Can’t help but think a similar thing was done after the T-Mobile and EE merger. T-Mobile accounts were locked out of 4G but could “upgrade” to EE for a Much higher cost. We stuck with unlimited data on 3G for about £20 a year, worked fine.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      Same thing with Orange 3G -> EE 4G at least initially.

      Mad but I got the ‘different company guv need to buy out contract’

      Those were the Wild West days before regulators had teeth and were unafraid to use them.

  3. Avatar John Popham says:

    Former monopolies can’t help carrying on acting like current monopolies, can they?

  4. Avatar Foolhunter says:

    No wonder and no surprise at all as there is NO working 5G infrastructure in the UK yet!

    1. Avatar The man in the hat says:

      Really?

      If you actually bothered to look at the coverage checker for the likes of EE, Vodafone and O2 you would see there are areas with working 5G. Although admittedly they need 4G in which to setup the connection. Vodafone being the first in the country to deploy “Stand alone 5G” but not in many areas. EE so far has the widest coverage currently for 5G.

    2. Avatar Nsomeka says:

      I was using a 5G mobile connection in newcastle upon tyne a few hours ago with a download speed of 497mbps.

      no 5g in the uk, err, no.

    3. Avatar Leex says:

      At the one mast site that had 5g cell installed once my phone (or ee stopped lying to me that I was on 5g when I wasn’t) I was only in range of 5g signal but only in Unrestricted mode 5g until I got really close it changed to Connected, use cellmapper and speedtest (I believe this is just the way 5g NSA works as same thing happens in usa where its showing real 5g icon but not actually connected to it, fake 5g is “5g E” witch is 4g+ in usa and fake 4g is H+ lol,LTE is 4g)

      I was getting 400-550mb speeds (70mb+ upload) Motorola G 5G

      Word of warning don’t do to many speed tests on a limited data plans (below 50-100GB I guess) with 5g connected, as tests will be between 600-1000MB per test if your getting over 400mbs/50mbs (faster the download speed is the considerable more data it uses)
      https://www.speedtest.net/my-result/a/6480303226

  5. Avatar Fran says:

    I’m pretty sure though that all their Sims are now 5G enabled so if you purchase a sim only and already have a 5G phone can you use 5G on their network free but you just can’t but a 5ag handset from them. Could be wrong but the literstur on the website seems to such that.

  6. Avatar Mr Robert A Oag says:

    Typical arrogant BT.

    1. Avatar Steven says:

      Better to opt out than be sold a phone and SIM with another unnamed company like my friend was in a non 5g area

  7. Avatar Scotty says:

    With 5G still in roll out phase for many, 4G is pretty decent and most people will be fine with it for the next couple of years. The marketing tag to make BT Mobile simple/flexible/cost effective when packaged with other BT services makes some sense.

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      Once 5g700 is available soon to all 4 networks you be missing out on signal as it has even more range then 4g800 has

      This only affects you if you don’t get low 4g signal at some locations in next 2 years

      Bit money grab blocking them self’s out of 5g (ee as its £32 per unlimited data or £27 ish for 100GB) as bt share plan is very good deal once you crank it up to 5 family sims from One account significantly cheaper then any other network (£110 5x100gb per sim or with bt broadband halo account £105 5x Unlimited data)

      20% off is now on 2-5 accounts (last time I checked it was more % off the more sims you get) so the 20% off would offset bt broadband been more expensive then the others providers who use same openreach service

  8. Avatar David Edwards says:

    It would be good just to get a signal.

  9. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Just as a matter of interest (and because its a real bugbear of mine!) what does BT call “Ultrafast” these days?

    Let me guess……more than 300Mbps?

    And is they’re decision to remove it because they’ve just realised that they’re 5g implementation won’t do reliably deliver “Ultrafast”?

    Instead we get a half-baked suggestion of “best 5G experience” when they’ve no intention of delivering 1Gbps on 5G, Period.

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      Note: I’m being very reasonable there. 5g if installed with the right amount of back-haul and network bandwidth should do 10Gbps.

    2. Avatar Leex says:

      The bandwidth available at the radio layer is the limitation normally not back-haul (if 4g2600 or 5g is available it will have the upgraded fiber back-haul)

    3. Avatar Stu B says:

      Absolutely agree, and let’s get 4g speeds up while we’re at it!

  10. Avatar JitteryPinger says:

    Well I’m glad I didn’t sign up for a 5G contract now then…. would of been somewhat annoying to be stuck on a plan without flexibility.

    To be honest all mobile networks here are taking the peepee now, performance has become subpar yet pricing is flying up and being on a contract is no longer rewarding.

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      I don’t understand why it “won’t be flexible” if you on a 5g plan it doesn’t prevent you from been on 3g-4g when 5g is unavailable

      Bt isn’t disabling 5g on currant plans (just new sign ups)

    2. Avatar JitteryPinger says:

      By flexible I mean if I need to change tariff I won’t have any options.

      Also found in the past that with old tariffs price increases can be more painful.

  11. Avatar Kevin says:

    Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. As a former customer, their overpriced packages and notorious ‘ClosedReach’ division gave me migraines. A multi-national company with millions and millions of customers serviced by an often unresponsive I.T system tells me everything I need to know about BT (and its apparent lack of investment in its own digital infrastructure).

    Unsurprised they reduced 5G offerings on the sly? No. Can only assume their network can’t cope with the increase in 5G demand? As the naïve puppets in marketing plot more ways to generate cream revenue for their fatcats. Sensible people request your PAC code and opt for a more cost effective mobile package. Stinks of deceit BT/EE.

  12. Avatar Nick Roberts says:

    Nice move confirming that even in the post industrial society delivering shareholder value to the few trumps customer service to the many at all times, even in today’s environmentally and medically troubled times. The pyramid reigns supreme.

    I’d have thought that national priorities like keeping the nation’s head above water by providing, amongst other things “World beating telecomms” (In a situation where were the UK is already playing catch-up) would have trumped shareholder value. But, there again, if you’re publicly quoted and being stalked for take-over by the friends and associates of the gi-normous orange thing, customer priorities will be subsumed to city interests.

    Seems like Putin + a 5-year plan has more chance of decent economic and technical devlopment than the UK.

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      Why did you need something like this to confirm that notion?

      It’s a business with one of the biggest pension black holes going, to the tune of over £1Billion. Yet it has underperforming CEOs that get paid off with bonuses of tens of millions of pounds. For failure. God knows what it would pay decent execs.

    2. Avatar A_Builder says:

      Whilst I would agree that BT previously has some terrible management that avoided in em runts by using the dreaded buzzwords of acquisition and bolt ons the present crew are at least doing what should have been done 10 years ago.

      WRT pensions the way they are valued is against standard actuarial tables. One of the most important factors in determining pension liability is life expectancy. The old tables, that were used in the last valuation, will have showed increasing life expectancy. The tables that will be used for the next valuation will show static life expectancy as lifespan in the UK has plateaued. Expect this to shrink the ‘black hole’ substantially.

  13. Avatar Nick Roberts says:

    The current COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the scale of the positive contribution that distributed consumer IT can make to business effciency, reducing costs and partially de-stressing a section of the work-force. But, the downside for certain parties, is that if fully implemented, it would entail all the old school establishment vested financial interests the commercial property landlords, the owners of transport, and anybody else that places a staple on the UK supply side by informational and market restriction, permanently loosing out. And we didn’t spend £30,000 a year on public school fees for 10 years to end-up in that situation. No sir !
    I don’t know why they just don’t put-up an Auschwitz notice at each port of entry, “Welcome to retardville, we’ll take you back 50 years” . . . and perhaps have a band playing

    1. Avatar Spurple says:

      We surely want more from UK infrastructure, but surely the situation is not as dire as you seem to believe.

    2. Avatar 125us says:

      Could you not use mental disability slurs please? The ***ard word is as offensive as the spa**** word.

  14. Avatar Dean says:

    As an existing customer, I noticed the other day that their SIM only (not family) has 5G enabled now. So I changed plan, went into a 5G enabled area….and my BT SIMONLY plan works with my Samsung S20+ 5G phone purchased from samsung direct.

  15. Avatar Ben Toner says:

    I suspect that the MVNO is too expensive (and what’s the point of both brands anyway) to migrate the 5G SA. I think it makes sense, to migrate people to EE now and its impending converged core eventually.

  16. Avatar noodle1066 says:

    It’s a numbers game.
    BT want all 5g subs on the same ‘network brand’ rather than splitting the numbers.
    They want to have the network with the most subscribers.

    1. Avatar Steven says:

      You got it in one

  17. Avatar Scott says:

    We’re all locked down anyway and in many cases unemployed or working from home. So why not try this simple idea… Just ditch the fricking smartphone

  18. Avatar Jason says:

    I am surprised that people want 5G at all with all the known health issues of all the other generations of wireless. Maybe BT are wanting to avoid unwanted attention down the line?

    1. Avatar Mark Weins says:

      Calm down, please.

    2. Avatar Aaron says:

      Utter nonsense and totally unfounded.

  19. Avatar Daniel says:

    BT is now offering 5G on all sim only deals.

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